In the misty pre-dawn haze of a Saturday morning I awoke to an urgent voice that appeared to be vocalizing right near my head. “Betty-Anne!” In that surreal aura that surrounds you when someone shouts you out of a dead sleep, I shot bolt upright. “Betty-Anne!” I could not locate the source, nor could I identify if it was a man or a woman calling. My not-awake mind was trying to put together who Betty-Anne was, because Betty-Anne is not me. A neighbor, or a neighbor’s child perhaps? The voice was very serious and sounded worried.
“Betty-Anne? Betty-Anne!” The person appeared to have moved just outside my bedroom window that faced the back of the house. The voice alternated between a loud whisper to a terse, almost panicked call. I shifted from being startled to feeling curious, then anxious about having someone right outside my house at this hour. Getting up out of bed and looking to see what was going on, I found nobody there. “Betty-Anne? Betty-Anne! Betty Anne? Betty-Anne! BETTY-ANNE!!!!” The voice kept on, and as it did, it became more and more mechanical and repetitive. I went back to bed and listened as the calling continued with increasing insistence. “Betty-Anne? Betty-Anne? Betty-Anne? Betty Anne! Betty Anne! Betty-Anne??? Betty Anne!”
As the day dawned and the spring sky began to lighten, the usual avian cacophony started up, and it was at that point that I realized that whoever was calling Betty-Anne must be a bird. Once I had determined this, I was a little bit relieved and amused, too. An hour or so later, when Betty-Anne did not let up, it was not as cute. So much for sleeping in on a Saturday. As the day warmed, the anxious caller appeared to have moved on.
Sunday morning, still dark, and it started up again. “Betty-Anne? Betty-Anne! Betty Anne? BETTY-ANNE??? Betty-Anne!!” It was definitely a male voice, a sort of robotic male voice. This got old very quickly and became relentless. Resigned to not sleeping in on a Sunday either, I lay there for a while and just marvelled at how human the bird-call sounded. The Former Fiance was not as entertained and awoke with a bad attitude; “I’m going to kill that fucking bird.”
I climbed out of bed and went in search of Betty-Anne, but never was able to visually locate him (I refer to this bird as “him” because it sounded like a guy). Soon the rest of the birds woke up and Betty-Anne was lost amidst their clamor and din.
I did a little research and determined that Betty-Anne must have been a Red-eyed Vireo. “This bird, not always seen, may sing for long periods of time; it appears to be endlessly repeating the same question and answer. It holds the record for most songs given in a single day among bird species.” That pretty much sums it up. Although after listening to a number of Vireo songs, none of them really have said “Betty-Anne”.
By Monday morning, Betty-Anne had moved on. Despite the disrupted weekend sleep, I was kind of sorry that he left.